Players get Ferguson smiling again

PA Sport
Sir Alex Ferguson
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Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Manchester United for showing the discipline absent during their derby drubbing by Manchester City after watching them breeze into the Carling Cup quarter-finals with a 3-0 victory at Aldershot.

They were never in any real danger of suffering one of the greatest cup upsets of all time, with goals from Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia wrapping up victory shortly after half-time at the EBB Stadium.

Manager Ferguson told Sky Sports afterwards: "Obviously, we had a difficult day on Sunday simply because we tried to play the history book. The nature of Manchester United is to go and win the game, whether it's eight men, nine men, 10 men or seven men. That's their nature and it's very difficult to change that."

He added: "But they kept their discipline, they kept their professionalism, enjoyed it - the players enjoyed that."

Tom Cleverley made his comeback from injury and captain Nemanja Vidic also returned, while several of Ferguson's fringe men put their hands up for a starting spot in Saturday's Barclays Premier League game at Everton. Ferguson added: "They'll always give me nudges. It's difficult picking a team when you've got so many good players.

"We have a fantastic squad. That's why I had to play these players. They need the games, they've not had many first-team games to be honest with you because the consistency of the team has been very good - we've not needed to make any changes. But there's Michael Owen - every time he plays, he scores. It's a fantastic record he's got.

"He's a fantastic professional. Dimitar Berbatov had a fantastic game and scored a tremendous goal from great football."

Aldershot boss Dean Holdsworth, who shared the traditional glass of wine with Ferguson after the match, was delighted with his side's attempt to bridge the gulf between npower League Two also-rans and the Premier League champions.

"I'm very proud," he said. "We can learn a lot from the game. The fans were magnificent and the team will be hungry for more occasions like this.

"It's been fantastic. What a team Sir Alex put out in front of us. United had bundles of quality but we'll learn from that. We were beaten by a set of world-class players and it was a joy to face them."

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